Faith Formation of Children and Youth


Phone: 616.676.9111



  • Monday – 9:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday-Wednesday – 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Thursday – 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Friday – 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Nancy Chandler, Faith Formation Office Assistant                                                                     ext 114

Teri Burns, Pastoral Associate for Faith Formation                                                                           ext 115

Karen Ottenweller, Pastoral Associate for Early Childhood Ministry                                                 ext 132

Jolana Peard, Pastoral Associate for Elementary Ministry (Gr 1-5)                                                  ext 123

Michael Renauer, Pastoral Associate for Youth Ministry (Gr 6-12)                                                   ext 118



St. Robert of Newminster Church’s Faith Formation Team is committed to providing resources and opportunities for the development of faith for persons of all ages. We take our directive from the Church, which says that “the definitive aim of catechesis (religious education) is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ.” (National Directory for Catechesis, 19B) Through our ministry, we aim to assist people of all ages to grow in knowledge of the Catholic faith, participate more explicitly in the liturgy and sacraments, live according to Jesus’ moral teaching, become people of prayer, and participate actively in the life and mission of the Church by becoming missionary disciples in their families, communities and world.

As we grow in relationship with God and knowledge of and in love with Jesus Christ, we ask for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to guide and nurture the faith development and discipleship of the community of St Robert of Newminster Church.


Early Childhood provides the opportunity for children ages 3 to kindergarten to develop an awareness of God’s presence and love in their lives, their families, their community, and the world around them. Sessions are offered on Sundays during the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Masses.

For more information on Sunday Preschool, contact Karen Ottenweller, Pastoral Associate for Early Childhood Ministry, ext 132.


Be My Disciples offers engaging lessons that lead young disciples to higher levels of moral thinking and a deeper initiation into a life of prayer. Through exploration, discovery, and decision-making, children are invited to accept the challenge to follow Jesus and learn and practice the skills needed to be active disciples.

The BE MY DISCIPLES WEBSITE offers exciting resources to support catechists, parents, and students with Be My Disciples.

Preparation for the Sacraments of Reconciliation & Communion

Second graders also use a variety of resources for preparation for the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion, includingGod’s Gifts faith formation curriculum and parent-child retreats.

For more information on Be My Disciples and preparation for the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion, contact Jolana Peard, Pastoral Associate for Elementary Ministry, ext 123.


This catechetical process for middle school youth combines youth activities and small group discussions to inspire fun learning, encourage enthusiasm for the Catholic faith, and develop relationship with Jesus Christ.

The St Mary’s Press Website provides resources on their Middle School Resource Center, including daily readings, articles, videos, Catholic news, and activities.

 Confirmation Preparation

Eighth graders prepare for the Sacrament of Confirmation with an online interactive process, Called to Mercy, and retreats.

For more information on Catholic Connections and preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation, contact Christine McCarty, Pastoral Associate for Youth Ministry (Gr 6-8), ext 124.


This ministry supports and encourages our youth to develop a deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ, family, and friends. It fosters involvement in church and community through prayer and worship, catechesis, service, and social activities.

Youth in grades 6-12 are encouraged to participate in the 6 p.m. Sunday Mass as altar servers, ushers, lectors, or choir members. Youth in grades 10-12 may participate as Eucharistic ministers.

On Sunday evenings after the 6:00 p.m. Mass, high school youth gather for evening prayer, talk about specific topics chosen by them, and eat dinner. For exact schedule, watch the bulletin and parish website or sign up to receive email communications.

For additional information on High School Youth Ministry, contact Michael Renauer, Pastoral Associate for Youth Ministry (Gr 9-12), ext. 118.


A home formation option is available for families preferring to do faith formation at home.

The Be My Disciples (Gr 1-5) At Home Family Guide offers parents of learners in grades 1-5 guidance in leading their children in activities exploring prayer and the Mass, faith topics, and living their faith in everyday life.

Learners in grades 6-8 receive a Catholic Connections Student Handbook. Lesson outlines are available via Google documents by clicking on the following links:

Grade 6

Grade 7

Grade 8

FIRE: Household Gatherings to Fan the Flame of Faith

Would you like to connect with other households to explore your faith? Is your household’s busy schedule keeping you from participating in weekly formation processes at St. Robert’s, such as Bible study or children’s faith formation? Even though your schedule is busy, would you like to be active in exploringFIRE-logo your Catholic faith? If you answer “yes” to these questions, consider FIRE: Household Gatherings to Fan the Flame of Faith

FIRE is for households of all kinds: families with children, married couples, empty-nesters, seniors. The process consists of individual household activities, group in-home gatherings, and parish on-site seasonal events.

Individual FIRE households will receive outlines to engage in learning about topics through play  & discovery and to share in practices of the Catholic faith through Scripture & prayer.

FIRE groups are made up of 3-4 households, which may be self-selected or assigned according to ages and interests of household members. FIRE groups decide on meeting schedules that fit participants’ needs. They meet in their own homes – the “Domestic Church.”

FIRE households are invited to participate in 3-4 on-site parish events, including an Advent gathering and Lent Retreat.

This is a wonderful opportunity to meet and share faith with other households, especially if weekly faith formation sessions don’t work with your household’s schedule. If you would like to enroll your household in FIRE or if you have questions about FIRE, contact Teri Burns, 616-676-9111 ext 115.


All children in grades 1-5 are invited to participate in Children’s Liturgy of the Word at the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sunday Masses, October through March. Families sit together at Mass. At the beginning of the Liturgy of the Word, children are dismissed and led by a facilitator to the Marian Chapel where they will hear and respond to the Sunday readings at their level. Afterward, they return to their families for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

For more information, contact Teri Burns, ext. 115.


Fourth graders present the Nativity Story during the Christmas Eve liturgy, December 24. There is a one-time rehearsal prior to the pageant.

For more information, contact Jolana Peard, ext. 123.


Catholic VBS is a fun-filled, Scripture-based program for children ages 4-grade 5. Youth in grades 6-12 and adults serve as volunteer leaders. Registration begins in the spring. 

For more information, contact Jolana Peard, ext. 123.


CALENDAR  Click here for Faith Formation Calendar, including session dates and dates to remember.

CLOSINGS & CANCELLATIONS  Faith formation sessions are automatically cancelled when Forest Hills Public Schools cancel classes due to weather conditions. If bad weather starts just prior to session times, the staff will contact the catechists, who will then attempt to contact the parents of their learners. Cancellations will be broadcast over local radio and television stations, including WOOD-AM (1300), WOOD-FM (105.7), WOOD TV-8, WZZM TV-13. Cancellations will also be listed online on the parish website. If in doubt, please contact the Faith Formation Office.

FOOD & SNACKS  No food or snacks will be allowed in the rooms. Parents are responsible for ensuring their children eat before entering the learning space. (There may be exceptions for lesson-related activities, as approved by the Pastoral Associates.)

PARENT PARTICIPATION  Every parent is expected to volunteer with an activity at least one time during the year. Sign-up by completing the Ministries Opportunities Form.

DROP OFF & PICK UP  In order to maintain safety and security, the standard procedure for dropping off and picking up children in the I Am Special Early Childhood and Be My Disciples Elementary programs is for parents or other authorized adults to escort their children to and pick up their children from their learning spaces/rooms. Middle school students participating in Catholic Connections may sign themselves in and out, but parents are encouraged to escort them in and out of the building.

PHOTOS/VIDEOS Participants of St Roberts faith formation activities may have their pictures taken for use in promotion of parish programs. Parents/guardians may designate on the registration form that they wish to not have their children photographed.

PLACEMENT  Because approximately 1200 children participate in faith formation sessions, we cannot take special requests for placement with friends or certain catechists. All placement is done in a practical manner.

REGISTRATION  You must be a member of the parish to register your family for Faith Formation activities. Join the parish.

 SAFE ENVIRONMENT/PROTECTING GOD’S CHILDREN (VIRTUS) St Robert of Newminster Parish complies with the requirements of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the guidelines of the Diocese of Grand Rapids. Under the requirements of the program, all employees and volunteers of the parish engaged in regular contact with children or young people must undergo a criminal history background check and attend a Protecting God’s Children abuse awareness session.

SAFETY In the event of a TORNADO, learners will be escorted to the inner hallway and rooms and be seated facing the wall with a book over their necks and heads. Tornado drills will be held during session times at the beginning of the year.

In the event of a FIRE, learners will be escorted out the nearest exit to the back of the parking lot where attendance will be taken. Parents will meet us at the back of the parking lot and must sign out their children with the catechist before taking their children away. Fire drills will be held during session times at the beginning of the year.

If a student is injured, appropriate FIRST AID will be performed. In the case of a minor injury, faith formation staff will perform basic first aid, and parents will be notified as soon as possible. In the case of an injury requiring professional medical attention, faith formation staff will contact 911 for emergency treatment and will contact the learners’ parents or the designated emergency contact. Medical Treatment Release is obtained through the registration process.

SPORTS & APPOINTMENTS  We discourage early dismissal of learners for other activities. If this situation arises occasionally, parents are required to notify the Faith Formation Office.

STUDENT CONDUCT  St Robert Faith Formation learners are expected to be respectful of catechists, fellow learners, and church property. Restitution for any damage incurred by a student is the responsibility of the student and/or his/her parents/guardians. If a student is disrespectful to the catechist or fellow learners or damages church property, the following steps will be taken:

  • The catechist will give the student a warning.
  • If a second correction is needed during the same class session, the student is sent to the office to complete an assigned activity.
  • The student will complete a Responsible Action Form and give this to the staff person in charge. A copy of the form may be sent home to parents/guardians. The original will be kept in Faith Formation office files.
  • If a student is sent to the office for a second time during a six-week period, parents/guardians will be asked to come in for a consultation with the staff.

TEXTBOOKS  Textbooks will remain in the rooms. If a parent prefers to have an additional at-home text, contact the Faith Formation Office.


  • Registration fees are $35 per student registered for any program, including home study.
  • Sacrament Preparation fees are $15 per student – First Reconciliation/Communion (Gr 2) and Confirmation (Gr 8).


Catechists do not have to pay registration fees for their children, but do still need to complete a registration form.

Scholarships are available for families experiencing financial hardship.

You may make your payment with credit card online by clicking the online payment icon on Faith Formation Registration webpage under the Faith Formation tab on the parish website: You may either sign up for a new account, or you may select the “Quick Give” option to make a one-time payment of your Faith Formation Registration Fee.  After choosing one of these options, under Gift Information select Fund and choose “Faith Formation Registration Fee” and/or “Sacrament Preparation Fee.”

VISITATION  Parents are always welcome and encouraged to visit their children’s faith formation sessions.

VBS 2016

VBS 2015